Maṇipravāḷa, or “gems and coral,” is, broadly speaking, a technical term that can be used to describe a language or dialect that combines Sanskrit with a vernacular language. More specifically, it is used as a designation for languages or dialects that are explicitly identified by its speakers or in its literary corpus as falling under this general rubric in South India, e.g., Śrīvaiṣṇava Tamil Maṇipravāḷa, (Malayalam) Maṇipravāḷa, Kannada-Maṇipravāḷa, and Telugu-Maṇipravāḷa.
The Origins and Different Types of Maṇipravāḷa
The Sanskrit commentary, Jayadhavala, composed by Jinasena on Jain scripture Ṣaḍkhaṇḍāgama (ca. ninth c.), first mentions the compound maṇipravāḷa (MP) in reference to the text’s use of both Sanskrit and Prakrit. It is in Abhinavagupta’s (eleventh c.) commentary on Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstrathat the expression is first used to refer explicitly to an admixture of two languages. The author refers to MP as being a tradition from the “South,” in which Sanskrit is...
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